A Repository of Textile Articles

Decorating Garments

Garment decoration

Not too long ago, the vast majority of apparel decorators were specialists of embroiderers or screen-printers. Now more and more companies are adding additional decoration methods to increase their profitability? and more importantly, keep their customer at home. Garments are decorated based on the end usage by affixing sequins, rhinestones, embroidery etc. to enhance the appearance of the final products.

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Major Types of Garment Decoration

There are four types of surface decoration and they are…

  1. Appliqué

    This is a popular way of decorating fabrics. Shapes of one fabric care applied to the surface or background of another fabric using a fine zigzag stitch or as in the example shown, with a straight stitch, which overlaps the edge of each shape. The pattern pieces that make up the appliqué are usually backed with interfacing to give them strength.

  2. Embellishment

    Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
    This is the application of a variety of techniques onto one fabric. For example, a currently popular technique is called Shisha work, where tiny mirrors are embroidered onto fabrics. Others stitch; dye or print techniques may also be used to give an ornate fabric.
  3. Fabric Manipulation

    The properties of a fabric can be manipulated using heat or chemicals. A popular process called Shibori, from Japan explores the manipulation of fabrics in this way. The fabric can be tied in simple or elaborate patterns, the fabric is then subjected to high steam and colour is added. This process works well on synthetic fabrics as they have thermoplastic properties or memories, which allow the fabric to retain its shape. Once heated to a high temperature the shape of the fabric cannot be changed unless the fabric is subjected to high temperatures again.

  4. Quilting

    Quilted FabricThis is a method of applying texture and colour by stitching through layers of fabric. The surface texture of the fabric is achieved by sandwiching wadding or stuffing between layers of fabric. Interesting patterns and 3D surface textures can be achieved


Other Popular Forms for Decorating the Garments

  1. Embroidery

    The second method of decorating garments is embroidery, a process of sewing decorative stitches onto fabric using needle and thread or yarn. The process has been around since ancient times but is still used extensively today.

    Modern embroidery machines are computer driven and digitally controlled. After the machine has been set up with the appropriate colored thread, a prepared graphic image or text is sent to the machine from a computer or memory device to be stitched onto the garment.

  2. Screen Printing/Silk Screening

    screen printing
    By Manolis Angelakis (Manolis Angelakis) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
    Screen Printing (also known as silkscreening), a process that is complex, messy, and time-consuming. It involves photographically produced stencil screens, emulsions, color separations, and ink forced onto the garment through screens with a roller or squeegee.Each spot color used requires a separate run through the process, making sure each color is in perfect registration. Then the entire process is repeated for each garment. Screen printing is labor-intensive, costly, and is most efficient for large print runs. It is not practical or cost-effective for printing single garments or small batches.
  3. Digital Printing

    Digital Garment Printing is a breakthrough technology in apparel decoration industry.

    These new print-to-fabric printers make it possible and practical for people working from home to compete with traditional T-shirt printing businesses.

    Until recently, there were only two choices for how you might directly imprint graphic images and text onto shirts, hats, bags, and other fabric items. There are some other non-direct methods for decorating apparel.

  4. Direct-to-garment printing

    In direct-to-garment printing, a T-shirt or other garment is inserted into a specifically engineered ink-jet printer and the ink prints directly onto the garment. It attaches to an ordinary computer and works the same way as a common document ink-jet printer.

    Any graphic image, photograph, or illustration can be quickly and easily printed. It can print a single shirt or many, and the per-shirt cost is the same, unlike screen printing which requires a costly pre-print setup. The “hand” (feel) of the printed garment is soft like the fabric, which may seem to be a small thing but is actually a great advancement.

    It is important to understand the significance of this development. Direct-to-garment printing is a revolutionary technology that opens up business possibilities that simply didn’t exist before. Stay-at-home moms can start a part-time money-making T-shirt business from their family room. College kids can print and sell cool T-shirts from their apartment.

    Creative people can build their own decorated clothing line to sell in retail stores. Families can create a profitable high-growth T-shirt business in which everyone can contribute. Companies who already do screen printing, sign-making, or embroidery can now add digital garment printing to their service offerings.

  5. Rhinestone Decoration


    Rhinestones are used throughout the clothing and fashion industry on accessories to decorate everything from fingernails to cell phones. They are mostly applied or attached to fabric surfaces using glue, heat or metal settings. Since stones are available in a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes, there is plenty of opportunity for creativity.

  6. Sequins

    sequinsSequins may be stitched flat to the fabric, so that they do not move, and are less likely to fall off; or they may be stitched at only one point, so that they dangle and move easily, to catch more light. Some sequins are made with facets, to increase their reflective ability.

  7. Beads/Beading

    bead finishesBeadwork of any sort looks a good deal more complicated than it actually is when a few simple techniques are generally sufficient to create even the most complex design. There is a natural affinity between beads and textile techniques; some translating directly. Embroidery and beadwork make a pair.

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